Saturday, July 10, 2010

I did autopsies and I can't gut a chicken!?

This morning I went on Facebook and saw that my daughter in law, Jo, had posted that she was excited to be butchering chickens today. That made one of us.

I have been plucking along with my chicken harvest this year. Pun intended. My back is still not up to snuff so about 2 birds a day has been my limit. Unfortunately, the feed store attendant was generous and we ended up with more birds than accounted for. I think. There was so many that I never could get a good count. Definitely over 3o. Today at week 9 of their growth I had whittled it down to 17. They couldn't wait any longer because they would be too tough or die of a heart attack. So I called in the troops for a day of harvesting.

I loaded all the birds in the back of the Kubota and parked them near the house under a shade tree. They were content. Meat birds aren't very smart or very athletic so no escapees.Eric and Jo arrived early and we got started. Eric, being a hunter is very good at dressing out game and I was thankful for his help.

Here is Jo after she had attempted to gut a bird. She was a little queasy. A little disgusted... at herself. She looked at me and said, " I can do autopsies, but I can't gut a chicken?!" For you see, before lovely Jo married Eric the Bold, one of her jobs was as an assistant to the coroner and she loved it. But here she sat pale after one little bird. Poor thing. So she decided to do an autopsy of a chicken.
Here is the heart. She said this bird had a lot of some kind of fancy named fat that I can't remember the name of, but apparently it is not good in a person. But in a chicken it will probably mean it will be tastier.
These are the lungs... sort of. The lungs are hard to get out without tearing them up.
The liver and the gallbladder, we think. I looked up chicken innards on line and all I got was how to cook them, I could never find out for sure what this little green organ was.
The large intestine. It was kind of pretty all laid out like this.
Part of the small intestine.
and we think this was the colon. It was in the right spot.
This is unique to fowl, it is a gizzard. The gizzards chew their food, because as you probably know chickens don't have teeth. It is a very hard organ. First time I saw one, years ago, I thought it was a tumor.
Here it is cut open. A very pretty yellow and it was very, very rough inside. It felt like sandpaper.
After about half the birds had gotten done, Jo decided it was time to cook one. So she took a freshly laundered bird and
rubbed it down with olive oil,
sprinkled on some of Rick's Rub and
and showed us how pretty it now looked.
She then carried it outside and stuck it's bottom over an opened beer can. 'Beer Butt Bird' she called it. We Lit the barbie at let it cook until the breast meat registered a 165 on the meat thermometer. It seemed to take a few hours, but it could have been shorter as I was a bit tired of cleaning birds at this point.

All done. It sure looked A.O.K. And it was.
My goal for the day was to get all the meat chickens butchered and still have time for a swim. It almost didn't happen because my crew began to burn out. But then Jo's dad showed up and saved the day. He was a chicken butchering pro and finished the last 5 birds off in record time. Thanks Mike, Eric, Jo, and Mark for making my day a success.


  1. Oh, I feel for Jo. I helped my Grandpa butcher chickens when I was a girl and haven't been able to chicken on the bone since. My job was dunking them in the boiling water to pluck them and then burning off the pin feathers.

    Yuck. I suppose it's a good skill to have, but I'm perfectly happy buying mine already butchered and de-boned

  2. Happy to help,Happy to not be one of your chickens, Very happy to not have you ladies checking my innards for the wrong kind of fat. And pleased that we raise our own food. And some to supply other families. mark

  3. Jo is so cute with those chickens!!
    You know, I always hated chicken processing. I try to avoid it at all costs. Something about the smell just does me in. Y'all are hardcore doing that many :)

  4. What a great post! I had to butcher chickens growing up, and I had a refresher course when I joined Peace Corps as an adult. That smell stays with you, I can tell you...

  5. I grew up on a farm. I've helped butcher many chickens and I think I have had every job that goes along with it. From the hatchet man to the feather plucker. I don't think it's a job you really ever like, but it's a great example of a job made more enjoyable by the people who are there to help.

  6. Looks like lots of work. How come we didn't see any pictures of Mark doing some of the butchering? Was he drinking the beer before the chicken sat on it or after? Maybe he's not safe with sharp objects, especially when he has been drinking.

  7. Jo looks so cute even when she's doing chicken autopsies!! I once found myself a little light-headed when I witnessed her cutting into a human skull while working at the Cornoner's office!! I thought... "that can't be my little jojohanna!!"

  8. Wow, that was educational. You have lovely help:) And your chickens are delicious.

  9. I love dissecting critters--terrible to watch them die, but once they are, let me at 'em!

    Fun pictures. Looks like a good day.


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